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mom_after_ed's Journal

Life on the other side of twee
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I started this blog in January, 2013 as part of an ongoing effort to raise a strong, healthy, body-positive daughter after struggling with and recovering from multiple eating disorders. For me, the idea of recovery denotes maintaining an equilibrium no matter what comes one's way. I know that as I embark on the parenting journey old thoughts and patterns may surface. This blog is a way of my setting my intention early on, and I hope that it will serve as a touchstone for me as I grow along with my little girl.

I'm aware that eating disorders now affect a wider demographic than ever before, and that risk in families tends to increase if there has been a diagnosis in the family. I feel that it's my responsibility to help my daughter avoid the kinds of experiences I had, and I am determined that my commitment to her education as well as her physical and emotional health remain unbroken. I plan to be open with her as she grows up, and I'll invite her to read this blog if and when she becomes interested.

I imagine that my blog--as well as my approach to feeding a family--will focus on the two food cultures with which I'm most familiar, those of North America (specifically my adopted hometown of New Orleans) and France. I'm always interested in learning how people around the world relate to notions of the body and the plate.

I invite anyone who is interested in raising a healthy kid in the midst of our ever-changing world food culture to post, drop me a line, or simply lurk if that's what works best for you. If you're on lj, friend me and I'll friend you back. I look forward to comments, feedback, ideas and suggestions that come from a place of love. I am absolutely fine with anonymous posts--it took me a long time to be able to talk about my experience publicly, and I understand that not everyone wants to do so. The only thing I ask is that all viewpoints be respected (and btw I do log IP addresses for every comment). Knowing myself and my village, I'm sure that my posts will venture into a wide territory--at times political, sentimental, zany, biological...perhaps all of the above on any given day.

Any way you slice it, welcome.

A brief history

My first disordered thoughts began when I was about 11. Over the next 12+ years I would come to know anorexia, bulimia, bulimarexia, compulsive exercise, night eating disorder and finally EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified). My BMI would swing from healthy to emaciated to "healthy" (by outward appearances), to overweight, obese, then back down and up again. I was hospitalized five times total, the final hospitalization lasting almost nine months. I came to know the feeling of my body on the brink of breaking down, but I never gave up fighting.

When I was twenty I began seeing a gifted Detroit-based therapist, Dr. Leslie Wasserman, who helped me heal through consciousness-raising. She gave me homework and a reading list every visit, and with her I explored the social, economic, psychological, biological and cultural framework that tends to foster eating disorders. She also sparked my love of yoga and meditation, though I would not begin a regular practice until moving to New Orleans several years later.

In 2001, I was diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia after a consultation with Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, who has researched and written widely about the subject. He drew my attention to what he terms "SAD," or the "sad American diet" and the ways in which an imbalanced diet can lead to immunosuppression, inflammation, weight struggles, cravings and physical pain. Through him, I grew to understand our country's historical approach to food, and the fact that our food system is transforming radically--in ways that are both helpful and harmful to the human body. After my meetings with him, I slowly cut processed foods, artificial colors and additives out of my diet. I also began changing my life to allow time for the purchase and preparation of fresh, organic foods as well as lengthy, mindful meals. Of course every meal isn't always a square one (or a sit down one), but that's okay--perfection isn't the goal. Healing and nurturing is, and I'm happy to have found a flexible way that works for me and that I can maintain consistently in the modern world.

With a whole lot of support and hand-holding from my loved ones (including my now husband, who is a better, more patient and more consistent cook than I am), I rebuilt my body and learned to take pleasure in food again. I eventually grew strong enough to complete multiple graduate programs in language studies that included several semesters in France, a country and culture that I credit with putting the final touches on my healing process. In 2010 I earned a PhD in French literature. Though I currently work part-time in a different field--and am a full-time mom the rest of my waking hours--I am grateful for the experience and wouldn't change a thing. At this writing in 2013, I consider myself as recovered as recovered can be. It is a dance and sometimes I wobble, but it no longer is a tight-rope walk. I feel aware of what is going on within and without, and I look forward to teaching my daughter how to care for her body, nourish her mind and grow up strong.